Quincy man facing burglary charges agrees to 15-year sentence as part of plea, then changes mind

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Zachary Laffey | Photo courtesy of Adams County Jail

QUINCY — A Quincy man scheduled to accept to a plea agreement Tuesday afternoon in Adams County Circuit Court changed his mind.

Zachary Laffey, 28, appeared before Judge John Wooleyhan with public defender Vanessa Pratt. Todd Eyler, Adams County assistant state’s attorney, told Wooleyhan an agreement had been reached for Laffey to plead guilty to five counts of burglary — all Class 2 felonies — and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon — a Class 3 felony.

A second count of possession of a firearm by a felon, along with three counts of residential burglary (all Class 1 felonies), would have been dropped as part of the plea.

Eyler said Laffey had agreed to a three-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections on each of the burglary counts, with each sentence running consecutively for a total of 15 years. He also agreed to a two-year sentence for the possession of a firearm count, and it would run concurrently with the burglary sentence.

However, when Wooleyhan asked Laffey if he had seen the charging documents, Laffey said, “Yes, your honor. I just got them, and I’m still kind of confused by what I was told and what was on these papers. I was told that I wouldn’t have any unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. So for me to get one of them is kind of confusing me.”

Wooleyhan asked if Laffey wanted to consult with Pratt.

“The only thing I would to be told is why I’m getting everything consecutively,” he said. “It’s my first time in trouble in Illinois. No one’s even asked me (but) I was under the influence of drugs during this time. I’ve tried to say that, but nothing’s been brought up about it. I’ve got my boy back there. Fifteen years away from my boy is going to be a lot for my first offense.”

However, when Wooleyhan asked again if Laffey wanted to consult with Pratt, Laffey replied, “No sir.”

Wooleyhan sensed uncertainty.

“A negotiated plea means you’re in agreement with everything that (the attorneys) have said,” he said. “That’s why I’m trying find out if you’re in agreement or not.”

Pratt then suggested the case be continued to Sept. 13. Eyler and Wooleyhan agreed.

As Pratt submitted paperwork to Wooleyhan, a teary-eyed Laffey tried to talk to Eyler.

“You have an attorney. I can’t talk to you,” Eyler said.

Laffey looked to the back of the courtroom several times and mouthed the words “I love you” to his son as bailiffs escorted him from the courtroom. His son waved back as he left the courtroom.

A grand jury filed a bill of indictment on June 23, determining that Laffey had committed the crimes of: 

  • Burglary on April 16 when he entered the home of Terry Newell, 1398 N. 1300th Avenue.
  • Burglary on May 7 when he entered a building at 700 S. Fourth owned by Charles Hull, Jr.
  • Burglary on May 8 when he entered the home of Newell a second time. 
  • Burglary on May 25 when he entered a building owned by Express Storage at 1400 Spring Lake Road.
  • Residential burglary on June 3 when he entered the home of Barbara Wingerter at 3700 Harrison.
  • Residential burglary on June 7 when he entered the home of Trevor Akers, 4101 N. 72nd. He also had two charges of unlawful possession of a weapon as a felon on this date after stealing them from Akers’ residence. He previously was convicted of a felony in Livingston County, Mo.

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